I went for a long run this morning. While I was stopped for a water break, someone came up to me and asked if I’d lost a house key. I told her it wasn’t mine, thanked her for the attempt, and that was it.

She didn’t seem concerned or worried about approaching me. Why would she? I am pretty much the epitome of a Nice White Lady. I’m a schoolteacher. I have long, mousy-brown hair that I often pull into a bun. I wear glasses. The only way I could personally appear to be less threatening is if I was small. (I’m just a smidge over six feet.)

I don’t have to worry about someone thinking I don’t belong in my own neighborhood. I don’t have to worry that I will have police officers asking me what I’m doing here because my presence worried someone enough to report me. If I leave my driver’s license at the house, I feel a little irresponsible, but I would never worry that I’ll have to prove who I am to avoid being taken into custody.

As a white woman, I can raise a fuss, and rather than getting into trouble for it, I’m likely to be placated. The worst thing that’s likely to happen is that I might get called “Karen.” If I participate in acts of aggression or vandalism during a protest, I am likely to receive consequences that are less serious than someone who isn’t white.

This is why I will not participate in violent protest. If my actions do result in consequences, they are likely to harm the people that I am supposedly trying to support. That seems counterproductive at the very least. How can I claim to be anti-racist and then choose to do something that has a good chance of perpetuating violence against people of color?

I can’t. And I won’t.

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